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2002 Pontiac G-Force Concept and LutzEnlarge Photo
PONTIAC UNVEILS ITS FUTURE
There’s something missing at Pontiac—the three-grooved cladding that has long adorned (and some would say ‘scarred’) the side of its products. The automaker unveiled a new and more contemporary look on three models shown in Chicago. “The G-Force shows the evolving direction for Pontiac,” declared General Motors product czar Bob Lutz. With only minor changes, the thinly disguised concept will go into production a year from now as the next-generation 2004 Grand Prix sedan. Along with the cleaner sideview, the G-Force boasts a more pronounced wedge shape than the current Grand Prix, a shortened rear deck lid, sculpted taillamps—and in keeping with Pontiac’s image as the GM performance division, it boasts a lot more power than the current GP. The supercharged V-6 under the hood gives the prototype 280 hp and a 155-mph top speed. “That may be theoretical in the United States, but if it gets you there fast enough,” suggested Lutz, “who cares.” The G-force features an array of high-tech hardware, including GM’s StabiliTrak system, which will also be available on the ’04 Grand Prix. The new model will start in the low-$20,000 range, according to Brand Manager Bob Kraut, “slightly less” than the current GP.
In related news, Kraut told TheCarConnection that due to steadily declining sales, it’s become increasingly likely that Pontiac will abandon the Grand Prix coupe with the debut of the 2004 sedan. There is no update in development for the two-door model, he noted, adding that the goal was to give the sedan a sportier, four-door coupe-like look.
2002 Pontiac G/XP conceptEnlarge Photo
2003 Pontiac SunfireEnlarge Photo
Pontiac’s goal is to not only reinforce its image as a “performance” brand, but to draw in a broader range of buyers, including the hip Boomers and Gen Xers who’ve been opting for performance imports, ranging from slammed Honda Civics to sleek Lexus coupes. GM used Chicago as a backdrop for a new Pontiac Sunfire that will, with the debut of the 2003 model, bring a rather extreme makeover to the entry-level compact. Along with its more aerodynamic exterior, the ’03 boasts modest upgrades to its interior. And at the high end of the Pontiac product range, there’s the Bonneville G/XP. In keeping with a Lutz mandate, the new concept sedan was brought from drawing board to show car in just four months. It features a 270-hp supercharged V-6, smoked lamp covers and an integrated spoiler. “We’re working to bring it to market next year as a specialty car,” said Pontiac General Manager Lynn Myers.
2002 Hyundai HCD-7 Equus conceptEnlarge Photo
HCD-7: THE LOOK OF LUXURY?
Another extreme-looking vehicle that’s much further from production is Hyundai’s HCD-7 Equus concept, meant to define the company’s goal if it should decide to produce a true luxury vehicle for markets outside South Korea. Inspired, says Hyundai, by the fuselage of an aircraft, the five-passenger design sports blacked-out A-pillars and vertical taillamps and headlights, along with massively flared wheel arches and a minimalist interior, where most functions are controlled through a central display. The concept sports a 270-hp V-8 and a five-speed automatic, as well as 21-inch wheels.
HYUNDAI SETS SIGHTS HIGHER
With sales setting one record after another, Hyundai is looking for ways to keep the momentum going, company officials told TheCarConnection. An assortment of new and updated products, such as the redesigned Tiburon, will be hitting the U.S. market this year, though there’s likely to be a “quiet period” to follow for about 18 months, acknowledged U.S. product development chief David Ossenmacher. That will be followed by a flood of vehicles: “The future is light truck solutions,” Ossenmacher hinted, but he stressed that Hyundai will try to find unique designs and niches, rather than simply mimic the sedans, minivans and crossovers offered by its competition. “I think wagons are coming back,” he added. Meanwhile, Senior EVP Byung Ho Sung revealed that Hyundai is looking at the possibility of boosting sales to as much as 500,000 a year in the U.S. Last year, volume surged 42 percent, to 346,235. That put it in the number five import spot, only 9000 units behind Volkswagen. To get to its goal, Hyundai will be building a new U.S. assembly plant. The Korean carmaker intends to choose between four states under consideration by June of this year.
Hyundai Narrows Plant Search by Joseph Szczesny (1/28/2002)